We all know about writer’s block.
Directly or indirectly, it’s a well known cliche, and experience.
But how well do we know the terror? The excruciating feeling of anxiety that makes the writer want to hide from the page. The nightmare you have while awake. The haunting that never goes away… the blank page… the empty chapter… the vicious table of contents that finds you where ever you hide… no matter what displacement activity you engage in.
How well do we know the paralysis?
I didn’t see it as paralysis the first time.
I ran away to England, so I was on the move. I invented a rationale. Found a formula that did, or seemed to do, the trick.
I became a bus conductor. I got hooked into opera, and went three nights a week when I was on ‘early turn’ (shiftworking).
I couldn’t finish the thesis.
I’d been a great researcher but a terrified writer.
I experienced paralysis and hid it from myself by reinventing myself.
But the avoidance of self-knowledge germinated. The trick failed. I eventually had to face myself, warts and all.
(It’s time to hit the road to Tralee, with Adrian, to meet the brother and see the sister’s curatorial eye at work: an exhibition. More to come…)